Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim v Chicago White Sox

And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights


White Sox 3, Angels 0: Chris Sale was fantastic. And not just because of that suh-weet 1983 throwback jersey. A perfect game into the seventh and then the hit that inning to Mike Trout was all the Angels could muster.

Indians 4, Tigers 3: Watched this one with the girlfriend’s parents. Tigers fans. Let’s just say that Jose Valverde will not be getting a Christmas card from them. Her dad called the implosion before it happened. I suppose one can do that when one watches Valverde enough. In other news, lots of praise for Asdrubal Cabrera’s fancy footwork on a double play in the bottom of the ninth. And it was. But if Torii Hunter was actually running it out at full speed it wouldn’t have been a double play. No word on this from the announcers. Found that odd.

Reds 5, Brewers 1: Nothing so fun in this one as some things I saw in Cincinnati when I went to the game on Saturday. Best thing there: Brewers pitcher struck out a Reds hitter, Jonathan Lucroy fires it off to third base to send it around the horn and Yuniesky Bentancourt … drops it.  Pretty epic. Here Donald Lutz drove in three. God, shut up, Lutz.

Cubs 2, Nationals 1: Storen and Soriano should film a buddy cop movie in which they take over cases from ace detectives and then totally lose the trail of the killer.

Pirates 3, Mets 2:  I suppose Matt Harvey isn’t going to be near perfect every time. And plays like this and like this don’t happen every day either.

Blue Jays 12, Red Sox 4: Two homers for Jose Bautista. Three more from other Blue Jays. Two of three from the Sox. Maybe that’s something to grow on.

Rockies 8, Cardinals 2: After being shut down on Friday AND Saturday night, the Rockies return the favor with a gem from Jorge De La Rosa and a three-run homer from Troy Tulowitzki.

Rays 4, Padres 2: The Rays are heating up. They’ve won five straight. Here a homer from James Loney — where the hell is his heat coming from? — and solid bullpen work brought it home.

Giants 5, Braves 1: Highlight of the game was Pablo Sandoval hitting a ball into McCovey Cove and the guy in the kayak totally eating it face first into the water when he tried to get the ball. I may or may not have wished for a great white shark to eat him when it happened, but I may or may not have been aggravated at my team playing like garbage too, so there was an excuse for my hostility.

Yankees 4, Royals 2: Homers from Vernon Wells and Robinson Cano. Umpire Laz Diaz also tried to goad Hiroki Kuroda into a fight, which was simply ridiculous.

Dodgers 5, Marlins 3: Nice bounceback start for Chris Capuano, who had one to forget last Monday against the Diamondbacks. Miami cures a lot of ills.

Orioles 6, Twins 0:  Wei-Yin Chen was cruising along for five shutout innings before having to leave with an oblique strain, but the bullpen finished the shutout for him. Baltimore has won six of eight.

Phillies 4, Diamondbacks 2: Brandon McCarthy’s best start of the year went for naught when Philly came back late, scoring two off Heath Bell in the ninth and then capped off by a two-run single by Ryan Howard in the tenth. Thank you, by-the-book managing from Kirk Gibson. McCarthy had 87 pitches through eight shutout innings. He has thrown over 100 pitches four times this year. You’d think he’d get a chance to pitch the ninth.

Rangers 12, Astros 7: “[Team] completes sweep of Astros” is Shift + CTRL + A on my machine. What is it on yours?

Mariners 6, Athletics 1: Kendrys Morales hit a three-run homer. Joe Saunders remains unbeatable at home. Jason Bay hit a homer and Jesus Montero had an RBI. No word what the other six or seven DHs they have did.

While we wait for free agent signings: Andrew McCutchen stars in a one-act play

Andrew McCutchen
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It’s a pretty slow offseason so far. We’ve had a couple of minor signings. I guess Jordan Zimmermann is sort of a big deal. But it’s a lot more quiet so far this year than it was this time last year. I suppose there’s no real rhyme nor reason for it. Baseball offseason is long, there is no salary cap and thus there’s no rush to do things too quickly.

So, while we wait, here’s Andrew McCutchen doing his best to kill time until spring training starts:

Red Sox sign outfielder Chris Young

Chris Young Getty

Veteran outfielder Chris Young thrived in a platoon role for the Yankees this past season and now he’s headed to the rival Red Sox to fill a similar role, signing a multi-year deal with Boston according to Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com.

Young was once an everyday center fielder for the Diamondbacks, making the All-Star team in 2010 at age 26, but for the past 3-4 years he’s gotten 300-350 plate appearances in a part-time role facing mostly left-handed pitching. He hit .252 with 14 homers and a .773 OPS for the Yankees, but prior to that failed to top a .700 OPS in 2013 or 2014.

Given the Red Sox’s outfield depth–Mookie Betts, Rusney Castillo, Jackie Bradley Jr., and Brock Holt even with Hanley Ramirez back in the infield–Young is unlikely to work his way into everyday playing time at age 32, but he should get another 300 or so plate appearances while also providing a veteran fallback option. And it’s possible his arrival clears the way for a trade.

David Price said to care about more than just the money

David Price

Every year free agency brings with it its own set of politics and talking points and spin. Factors which are said to be more important to players than the money being offered.

And, to be fair, there is one big factor that is likely more important than money for many of them: winning. I truly believe players want to win. They say it all the time and there’s no reason to think they’re being disingenuous about that, especially the ones who have been around the game a long time.

I’ll note, however, that given how success cycles work in baseball (i.e. teams that aren’t close to being true contenders aren’t likely to be spending big in free agency anyway) that consideration often washes out of the system. Every year you hear of one or two losing teams making a big, competitive offer to a free agent, but it’s not that common.

What I’m talking about more here are the truly soft factors. Factors which often anchor hot stove rumors, but which rarely if ever truly stand out as determining factors when it comes to where a free agent ends up. Examples of these include geographic proximity to where the player grew up, his wife grew up, he went to college or what have you. Remember how CC Sabathia was going to play in California? And Mark Teixeira was going to play for Baltimore? Heck, I’m so old I remember when Brandon Webb was gonna break the bank playing for the Reds.

It’s pretty rare, though, for that to pan out. Sabathia and Teixeira went to New York. If Brandon Webb’s shoulder had cooperated it’s not likely he would’ve ended up in Cincinnati. Money talks for free agents, much louder than any of the soft considerations. Even when, like Mike Hampton and his Denver-public-school-loving self claimed that he signed with the Rockies for reasons other than the fact that they unloaded the money truck for him.

I think we’re seeing a new soft factor emerge. Today Peter Gammons reported this about David Price:

Cities are fairly strong as soft factors go, I reckon. Somewhere south of money and winning but north of “my wife’s family lives there.” Money can make up the difference between a fun city and a lame city, but if things are equal, going someplace you want to be likely is a factor.

But that second one — being able to hit — seems a bit suspect. This is not the first time I’ve heard that this offseason. Zack Greinke was said to prefer the NL because he likes to hit. I’ve heard this about other pitchers too. I question how important a factor that truly is — the actual hitting part actually affecting a free agent decision — as much as I suspect it’s a negotiating tool designed to get AL teams to pay a premium to get the guy to “give up” hitting. Or, more likely, that it’s code for “it’s WAY easier to pitch in the NL because I get to face a pitcher who can’t hit for crap 2-3 times a game.”

On some level I suppose this is all unknowable. I doubt David Price or some other free agent pitcher is ever going to hold a January press conference in which he says the following:

“Well, the money was absolutely equal between the final two suitors and, as you know, both made the playoffs last year and play in cities with copious cultural resources for my family and me. And, having plotted the two cities on Google Maps, I discovered that the two cities are each EXACTLY 347 miles from my Aunt Tilly’s house! What are the friggin’ odds?

Ultimately, though, I signed here so I could bat.”

Like I said, not likely. But wouldn’t it be something if that happened? If so, I’d probably cast a 12-inch statue of Mike Hampton and start giving out an annual award or something.

Player pool for MLB postseason shares is a record $69 million

television money

MLB just announced the postseason shares for this year and the players’ overall pool is a record total of $69.9 million. Nice.

That total gets divided among playoff participants, with Royals receiving $25,157,573.73 for winning the World Series and Mets getting $16,771,715.82 for finishing runner-up. That works out to $370,069.03 each for the Royals and $300,757.78 each for the Mets.

Jeffrey Flanagan of MLB.com reports that the Royals have issued full playoff shares to a total of 58 people, plus 8.37 partial shares and 50 “cash rewards.” In other words: There was a whole bunch of money to go around if you were in any way involved in the Royals’ championship run.

According to MLB public relations the previous high for the overall player pool was $65.4 million in 2012 and the Mets’ playoff share is the highest ever for a World Series-losing team, topping the Tigers’ share of $291,667.68 in 2006. Kansas City’s playoff share is slightly less than San Francisco received last year.

Here are the individual postseason share amounts by team:

Royals – $370,069.03
Mets – $300,757.78
Blue Jays – $141,834.40
Cubs – $122,327.59
Astros – $36,783.25
Cardinals – $34,223.65
Dodgers – $34,168.74
Rangers – $34,074.40
Pirates – $15,884.20
Yankees – $13,979.99